Archives par mot-clé : histoire ancienne

Vietnam’s pathfinder

Hommage de l’historien K.W. Taylor (professeur en études culturelles sino-vietnamiennes au département des études asiatiques de l’Université de Cornell) à son collègue John K. Whitmore, historien du Viêt-Nam à l’Université de Michigan, récemment décédé.


John Kremers Whitmore (1940–2020) was the pioneer of Vietnamese studies in the United States, not only because of his own research and publications but equally because he trained and nurtured new generations of young scholars. In the 1960s, Vietnamese studies in the United States hardly existed. There were anti-war academics, mostly specialising in American history, with a few having expertise in some Southeast Asian country other than Vietnam. But scholars who studied Vietnam as a country and not just as a war were exceedingly rare. Only one American was devoted to the study of Vietnam on its own terms, and that was John Whitmore.

Lire la suite : Mekong Review, November 2020. URL : https://mekongreview.com/vietnams-pathfinder/


Illustration « à la une » : Dr John K. Whitmore at a Chinese–Vietnamese boundary marker in Qinzhou, Guangxi, China, 2008.
Photo: Sun Laichen

John K. Whitmore (1940–2020): In Memoriam

Un grand spécialiste de l’histoire du Viêt-Nam ancien s’en est allé. In Memoriam rédigé par son collègue et ami Victor Lieberman de l’Université de Michigan. Posté initialement sur la liste du Vietnam Studies Group.


Dr. John K. Whitmore, a renowned scholar of early Vietnamese history, an esteemed teacher, an active member of the Center for Southeast Asian studies, and a personal friend, passed away in November, 2020.

John’s research focused on Vietnamese political and cultural evolution from the eleventh through the sixteenth centuries. When he began his work, during the height of the Vietnam War, antiwar activists had popularized an image of Vietnam as an ancient, homogeneous, historically stable « nation » whose struggle against the Americans simply continued an age-old struggle for independence from China. But, without getting involved in contemporary politics, John undertook fine-grained studies of Chinese-language Vietnamese sources to chart carefully the origin and evolution of Vietnamese identity. He discovered, first, that in the early centuries of the second millennium what is now northern Vietnam was home to three principal groups — recent Chinese immigrants, older populations of mixed Chinese-indigenous origin, and upland communities speaking local Vietnamese dialects. In competitive and cooperative configurations these groups evolved and interacted, but there was no coherent Vietnamese identity on an elite level until the late fifteenth century, and on a popular level until very much later. To speak of a premodern « nation » is anachronistic. John was particularly interested in the long-term impact on Vietnamese society of Chinese and regional commercial currents. In his last years he also charted the history in what is now central Vietnam of the Cham kingdom, for which he worked out an entirely new chronology and theoretical framework.

John was a scholar’s scholar. A meticulous no-nonsense researcher, his conclusions followed wherever his primary materials led him. He was not the least reluctant to revise his own earlier interpretations in the light of new evidence; indeed he exulted in the joy of discovery. His love of research, his mastery of complex detail, his openness to new historiographic approaches, but also his uncompromising intellectual independence and disregard for fleeting fashion, were never far from the surface.

As a teacher, he was unfailingly patient, amiable, sympathetic, and encouraging. Students, although in awe of his expertise, eagerly sought him out. As a colleague, he was no less supportive. Most of what I know about early Vietnamese history I learned from John, both from his writings and from innumerable dinner conversations over many years.

We first met some 57 years ago when he was an instructor in an undergraduate course in Southeast Asian history that I took at Yale. Although our physical paths diverged not long thereafter, we remained in contact, only to find ourselves once again on the same campus, this time in Ann Arbor, in 1984. Since then we have remained in regular contact. For years we co-taught a U of M seminar on early Southeast Asia. And we saw one another on frequent social occasions. John was an unfailingly loyal and generous friend, and his passing will leave a hole in many people’s lives.

John is survived by his former wife, three sons, and six grandchildren.

Vic Lieberman

History Department, U of M.

Illustration « à la une » : bannière de son blog académique © DR

Võ Long Tê : Les archipels de Hoàng Sa et de Trường-Sa … [préface de Nguyễn Thế Anh]

VoLongTe_ArchipelsHoangSaTruongSa_1[ndlr] En 1974, la République du Viêt-Nam (au Sud du 17e Parallèle 1955-1975) éditait un ouvrage capital sur la connaissance historique de l’archipel des Paracels. L’ouvrage, préfacé par le Professeur Nguyen The Anh, est désormais en ligne sur le site du chercheur Liam Kelley responsable du site Le Minh Khai’s SEAsian History Blog.

La connaissance que nous avons des îles Paracels, pour ancienne qu’elle soit, est restée longtemps imprécise et incertaine. Dans quelques ouvrages savants vietnamiens, mention en été faite dès le milieu du XVIIe siècle, mais ce n’était que description vague et représentation approximative, bâties sur des renseignements fragmentaires recueillis auprès des pêcheurs et marins qui n’avaient jamais cessé de fréquenter saisonnièrement ces îles. Il faudra attendre des missions de relevé cartographique que l’empereur Minh Mệnh y fait envoyer, la première fois en 1834 avec le « Giám thành Đội trưởng » Trương Phú Sĩ, et la deuxième fois en 1836 avec le « Thủy quân Chánh Đội trưởng » Phạm Hữu Nhật, pour que l’administration s’en forme une idée exacte. Cependant, l’on aura pas attendu pour proclamer, comme le répéteront plus tard les auteurs du Đại Nam nhất thống chí (大南ー統志)que la province de Quang Ngai englobe « à l’Est, s’échelonnant en position tranversale, des îles de sable qui, tout en s’unissant dans un ensemble à d’autres îles font de l’océan un fossé ».

Dans cette étude M. Võ Long Tê s’est attaché à nous retracer cette amélioration progressive de nos connaissances des îles Paracels dans le passé, en s’appuyant sur d’anciens textes qu’il dépouille avec une rare vigueur scientifique, en historien averti. Il faut voir ici plus qu’une oeuvre de circonstance, inspirée par un problème d’actualité : dépassant l’événement, l’auteur nous a finalement fait, avec bonheur, l’histoire de toute une politique territoriale de l’ancien Vietnam. Et c’est à un historien que je rends hommage ici.

Nguyễn Thế Anh, avril 1974.

  • Voir le texte intégral de cet ouvrage en ligne : PDF